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  Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, A The Ultimate Baby Blues
Year: 1989
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Stars: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Kelly Jo Minter, Danny Hassel, Erika Anderson, Nicholas Mele, Joe Seely, Valorie Armstrong, Burr DeBenning, Clarence Felder, Michael Ashton, Beatrice Boepple, Matthew Borlenghi, Noble Craig, E.R. Davies
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox) has just been making love with her boyfriend Dan (Danny Hassel), and goes to the bathroom to freshen up, stepping into the shower. She turns on the taps and begins to wash her hair, but then notices that the plughole seems to be bunged up with something and the cubicle is filling up with water as a result - and she cannot turn off the taps or get the door open. Abruptly, she is sent flying into a dank, dark corridor, where she approaches a nun (Beatrice Boepple), then sees her story: the nun was trapped in a lunatic asylum with a hundred maniacs who gang raped her, and the result of that awful night was Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund)...

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child was the fifth instalment of the series (they dropped the number from the title this time around for some reason), and the least successful, which is probably why it's considered the worst of the series by many, yes, even worse than Part 2. But really it wasn't much different from Part 4, sticking close to the formula apparently set in stone as ordered by New Line head honcho Robert Shaye, which might have been the key to its failure: it wasn't offering anything new, and the suspicion among horror fans that if you'd seen one of these sequels then you'd seen them all was beginning to take hold.

It didn't stop them churning out fresh instalments over the coming years, naturally, because the brand was still a moneymaker, but after this they tried to put new spins on the franchise, by telling us this would be the last one, for example, or placing its villain in the real world, or pitting him against another slasher movie behemoth, or even remaking the first one as a supposedly far "darker" prospect. So this one, being the last made in the eighties which were really Freddy's glory days, did secure a small place in movie history as being the last of the sequels to present itself as standard and unadorned.

Apart from those cash-gobbling special effects sequences, of course, which remained the highlights as there was not really any other motive to watch this. The twist this time was that Alice had been made pregnant by Dan, and her womb became a battleground between her and Krueger over who was to possess the unborn child, and by extension, the adult he would grow up to be. There's a curiously conservative anti-abortion theme running through this, but not one which offers much of an argument to the pro-choice brigade once Dan is killed off by Freddy early on - there's no way that Alice would get rid of his offspring now, though it's unlikely that this was a scenario that turned up in many teenage pregnancy woes.

Once Dan is out of the way, by being fused to a motorbike and made to drive straight into an oncoming truck, yeah, that old chestnut, Alice makes it her business to get rid of the nightmare chappie once and for all. Where have we heard that before? There's a definite feeling of going through the motions to this one, as if New Line were less bothered about the quality of the product than the amount of profit it would make them, so in a way it served them right when it underperformed. But if you're a fan of this series, you'd understandably be left feeling let down by the manner in which the ideas were running so low: the death of one comic book fan character equals the wizard from Part 3 for lameness. Every so often, they did pull an arresting image out of the hat, with even a Jan Svankmajer homage at one point, but otherwise it took itself far more seriously than most audiences did. Music by Jay Ferguson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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